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acknowledging your continued Endeavours to enrich me: But I can tell you 'tis to no purpose, for without the Opes, Æquum animum mi ipse parabo.
Mr POPE to Mr CONGREVE,
MARCH 19. 1714-15. THE Farce of the What-d'se-call it, has occa
fioned many different Speculations in the Town. Some look'd upon it as meer Jest upon the Tragic Poets, others as 'a Satire upon the late War. Mr Cromwell hearing none of the Words, and seeing the Action to be Tragical, was much astonished to find the Audience laugh; and says, the Prince and Princess must doubtless be under no less amazement on the fame Account. Several Templers, and others of the more Vociferous kind of Critics, went with a Resolution to hiss, and confefs'd they wcre forced to laugh fo much, forgot the Design they came with. The Court in general has in a very particular Manner come into the Jeft, and the three first Nights, (notwithstanding two of them were Court-nights) were distinguish'd by very full Audiences of the first Quality. The common People of the Pitand Gallery receiv'd it at first with great Gravity and Sedateness, fome few with Tears; but after the third Day they also took the Hint, and have ever since been very loud in their Claps. There are still fome sober Men who cannot be of the general Opinion, but the Laughers are so much the Majority, that one or two Critics seem determin'd. to undeceive the Town at their proper Cost, by writing grave Difiertations
against it: To encourage them in which laudable Design, it is refolv'd a Preface shall be prefixt to the Farce, in Vindication of the Nature and Dignity of this new
of Writing Yesterday Mr Steele's Affair was decided : I am sorry I can be of no other Opinion than your's, as to his whole Carriage and Writings of late. But certainly he has not only been punish'd by others, but suffer'd much even from his own Party in the Point of Character, nor (I believe) receiv'd any amends in that of Interest, as yet; whatever may be his Prospects for the Future.
This Gentleman, among a Thousand others, is a great Instance of the Fate of all who are carried away by Party-spirit, of any side. I wish all violence may fucceed
but am really amazed that so much of that fowre and pernicious Quality shou'd
joined with so much natural good humour as I think Mr Steele is pofless'd of.
I am, &c.
APRIL 7. 1715. M
R Pope is going to Mr Jervas's, where Mr
Addison is sitting for his Picture ; in the mean Time amidst Clouds of Tobacco at a Coffee-House I write this Letter. There is a grand Revolution at Wills, Morrice has quitted for a Coffee-House in the City, and Titcomb is restor'd to the great Joy of Cromwell
, who was at a great Loss for a Person to converse with upon the Fathers and Church History: the Knowledge I gain from him, is intirely in Painting and Poctry; and Mr Pope owes all his
skill in Astronomy to him and Mr. Whifton, so celebrated of late for his discovery of the Longitude, in an extraordinary Copy of Verfes*. Mr Rowe's Yane Gray is to be play'd in Easter-Week, when Mrs Oldfield is to personate a Character directly opposite to female Nature; for what Woman ever despis'd Sovereignty ? You know Chaucer has a Tale where a Knight laves his Head, by discovering it was the thing which all Women most coveted. Mr Pope's Homer is retarded by the great Rains that have fallen of late, which causes the Sheets to be long a drying ; this gives Mr Lintot great uneasiness, who is now endeavouring to corrupt the Curate of his Parish to pray for fair Weather, that his Work may go on. There is a Six-penny Criticism lately publish'd upon the Tragedy of the IVhat-d’ye-call-it, wherein he with much Judgment and Learning calls me a Blockhead, and Mr Pope a Knave. His grand Charge is against the Pilgrims Progress being read, which he says is directly levelld at Cato's reading Plato ; to back this censure, he goes on to tell you, that the Pilgrims Progress being mentioned to be the eighth Edition, makes the Reflection evident, the Tragedy of Cato having just eight times (as he quaintly expresses it) visited the Press. He has also endeavoured to show, that every particular passage of the Play alludes to some fine part of Tragedy, which he says I have injudiciously and profanely abusedt.
Sir Samuel Garth's Poem upon my Lord Clare's House, I believe, will be publish'd in the Easter-Week.
Thus far Mr Gay— who has in his Letter fore+ stalld all the Subjects of Diversion; unless it shou'd
* Called, An Ode on the Longitude, in Swift's and Pope's Miscellanies.
+ This curious Piece was intituled, A compleat Key to the Wbat-d'yecall-it. It was written by one Griffin a Player, adlifted by, Lewis Tbeobaldo
be one to you to say, that I sit up till two oʻClock over Burgundy and Champagne; and am become so much a Rake, that I shall be ashamed in a short Time to be thought to do any sort of Business. I fear I must get the Gout by Drinking, purely for a fashionable Pretence to sit still long enough to tranNate four Books of Homer. I hope you'll by that time be up again, and I may fucceed to the Bed and Couch of my Predeceffor: Pray cause the Stuffing to be repaired, and the Crutches shortened for me. The Calamity of your Gout is what all your Friends, that is to say all that know you, must share in; we desire you in your turn to condole with us, who are under a Persecution, and much-afflicted with a Diftemper which proves grievous to many Poets, a Criticism. We have indeed some relieving Intervals of laughter, (as you know there are in fome Diseases) and it is the opinion of divers good Guessers, that the last Fit will not be more violent than advanta, geous; for Poets affaild by Critics, are like Men bitten by Tarantula's, they dance on so much the fafter,
Mr Thomas Burnet hath play'd the Precursor to the coming of Homer, in a Treatise called Homerides. He has since risen very much in his Criticisms, and after affaulting Homer, made a daring Attack upon the * What-dye-call-it. Yet is there not a Pro clamation illued for the burning of Homer and the Pope by the common Hangman; nor is the Whatd'ye-call-it yet filenc'd by the Lord Chamberlain. They fhall survive the Conflagration of his Father's Works, and live after they and he are damned (for that the B-p of S. already is so, is the Opinion of Dr Sacheverel and the Church of Rome).
I am, &c.
* In one of his Papers call’d The Grumbler, long since dead.
Mr Pope to the Earl of B ---
My LORD, IF your Mare could speak, she wou'd give you an
Account of the extraordinary Company she had on the Road; which since she cannot do, I will.
It was the enterprizing Mr Lintott, the redoubtable Rival of Mr Tonson, who, mounted on a Stonehorse, (no disagreeable Companion to your Lordship's Mare) overtook me in IVindsor-Forest. He said he heard I design’d for. Oxford, the Seat of the Muses, and would, as my Bookseller, by all means, accompany' me thither. :
I ask'd his where he got his Horse? He answered, he got it of his Publisher: “ For that Rogue “ my Printer (faid he) disappointed me: I hoped
to put him in good humour by a Treat at the “ Tavern, of a brown Fricaffee of Rabbets, which “ coft two Shillings, with two Quarts of Wine, be“ fides my Conversation, I thought myself cock“ sure of his Horse, which he readily promised me, “ but said, that Mr Tonjon had juft such another « design of going to Cambridge, expecting there " the Copy of a Comment upon the Revelations; " and if Mr Tonfon went, he was pre-engaged to « attend him, being to have the Printing of the
« faid Copy."
So in short, I borrow'd this Stone-horse of my Publisher, which he had of Mr. Oldmixon for a Debt; he lent me too the pretty Boy you see after me; he was a smutty Dog yesterday, and cost me near two hours to wash the Ink off his Face: But the Devil is a fair-condition’d Devil, and very forward in his Catechise: If you have any more Bags, he shall carry them.